Friday, April 21, 2017

Doctor Magnificus

Today is the memorial of Saint Anselm of Canterbury, Doctor of the Church. From his Epistula de Sacramentis Ecclesiae (from Jasper Hopkins's translation (PDF)):

Your Reverence asks about the sacraments of the Church, because they are not everywhere performed in the same way but are dealt with differently in different places. Assuredly, if they were celebrated in one way and with one mind throughout the whole Church, it would be a good and praiseworthy thing. However, there are many differences which do not conflict with the, fundamental importance of the sacrament or with its efficacy or with faith in it; and these cannot all be brought together into one practice. Accordingly, I think that these differences ought to be harmoniously and peaceably tolerated rather than being disharmoniously and scandalously condemned. For we are taught by the holy Fathers that, provided the unity of love is preserved within the Catholic faith, a different practice does no harm. But if one asks whence these different customs arise, I deem [the source to be] nothing other than the differences of human dispositions. Even though men do not disagree about the truth and validity of the sacrament, nevertheless they do not agree on the suitability and seemliness of the manner of administration. For what one person deems to be more suitable, another often deems to be less suitable. Now, I do not believe that to disagree concerning such differences is to wander from the truth of the matter.

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